Unnatural Heritage Trust

To: andrew stafford <>,
Subject: Unnatural Heritage Trust
From: David James <>
Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2000 22:20:30 +1000

I take the point of you and Stewart that publications like this NHT thing
are substandard. However, I generally refrain from discussing sideline
stuff on birding Aus beacuse it is SUPPOSED to be about birds. I'm afraid i
sit on the fence about NHT and all the hype that goes with it. i've managed
and monitored quite a few projects funded under NHT, and although there's
waste and problems there are some real benefits to the environment. the
political motivation/philosophy/privatisation behind it all, well, i didn't
vote for it.

But my comments were perhaps esoteric ones regarding the taxonomy of the
list of extinct birds in Australia.  You say

> The point is not what subspecies are being
>referred to as having become extinct; the quote above
>clearly refers to SPECIES - presumably those currently

This is not such a sharp point. The difference between subspecies and
species is only a fashion, a definiton. Subpecies to one taxonomist,
species to the next. according to the biological species concept we have
around 750 species in aus, but under a strict phylogenetic species concept
there might be more like 1500 or 2,000. 

whatever, your point still stands that the producers of the NHT publication
whatever their intentions, seem poorly informed and/or more concerned about
the sensationalism of their information than they are about its accuracy.  

 andrew stafford wrote:
>Howdy doody,
>A few people have been getting stuck into Stuart
>Dashper regarding his comments on the Natural Heritage
>journal, which is said to read:
>>'Australia has more species of birds than any other
>> continent on earth,
>> >with more than 1000 varieties gracing our skies,
>> waterways and landscape.
>> >Regrettably, 23 species are presumed extinct,
>> having not been sighted in
>> >Australia for more than fifty years.'
>I must say I'm with Stuart for throwing his hands in
>the air (metaphorically speaking). Because, regardless
>of how nice the journal looks, no matter what great
>projects the Heritage Trust has funded through dubious
>means, and no matter how one fiddles with the
>taxonomy, I don't think it reflects well on the
>credibility of those who have signed this clearly
>misleading piece of tripe - that is, the minister and
>his junior. The point is not what subspecies are being
>referred to as having become extinct; the quote above
>clearly refers to SPECIES - presumably those currently
>Frankly, I doubt that much thought went into the
>phrase "more than 1000 species gracing our sky" etc.
>It would be nice, as one correspondent suggested, if
>we could actually get our political benefactors to
>actually believe a bit more of what they tell us and
>more importantly, to act on the information, but like
>Stuart I am deeply suspicious about their bona fides.
>Unfortunately, there has been some newspaper reportage
>even in the last few days of how so much of the money
>from the NHT, paid for by the Telstra sale, has been
>squandered on low-priority projects - many of them in
>marginal Coalition electorates. I for one am not
>Considering this government wouldn't commit to an
>environmental policy at all without selling off half
>of an (extremely profitable) communications carrier
>first, it's not unreasonable that some among us will
>be wary of said government's environmental credentials
>and commitment.
>Rant over.
>Do You Yahoo!?
>Talk to your friends online with Yahoo! Messenger.
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David James
PO BOX 5225
Townsville Mail Centre,
Qld 4810, Australia

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